With each passing day, the hopes of an NFL season being played in 2011 seem to get bleaker and more discouraging. Arguments between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association over a new collective bargaining agreement have gone on for longer than most fans care to know. A decision has to be made soon, because time is quickly running out on any chance to save the season.
The traditional start to the season is getting closer and closer, and it seems that nothing has changed since the end of last year. Owners and players are still arguing over how to divide $9 billion in revenue and the lockout, which has kept players from attending events at their respective teams facilities, has dragged on for over four months now.
The chief individuals involved in the labor dispute met all last week in New York, but nothing was resolved in these private meetings. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith chose to take this weekend off, but plan to resume negotiations on Monday. These meetings will be the first with owners and players present that will not include Judge Arthur J. Boylan, who has been the mediator of the labor dispute. Judge Boylan has scheduled another mediated session for July 19 in Minneapolis, but has urged both sides to continue their own talks until that time.
As they struggle to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement, it appears things are becoming more dire outside of the meeting room. The seasons first preseason game, a match-up between the Chicago Bears and St. Louis Rams in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, is slated for August 7, just shy of a month away from now and only a couple of weeks after Judge Boylan’s meeting on the 19th. Also, some teams have already cancelled some customary aspects of their training camps, which include out-of-town sessions that draw in fans and helps with tourism.
It’s very possible that if a deal is not reached within the next few weeks, the NFL preseason will all but be abandoned. Activity in training camps will be minimal at best and the season may go on without any warm-up games before the regular season starts. If still nothing is settled, the real damage starts to take place when the possibility of regular season games being cancelled becomes a reality. The NFL has already discussed different scenarios regarding the number of regular season games played in 2011, with one number being as low as eight games or less, in preparation of this possibility.
Though there is no set time that a decision has to be made, it’s a safe bet to say that if the leaves start changing colors and there is no football being played, its probably too late to salvage anything. The NFL and NFLPA still have some time to reach a resolution without any major effects to the upcoming season, but they better do something productive soon, or fans will have to find something else to do on Sundays.
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